The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has published its annual classification list for commercial bivalve mollusc production areas across Ireland, reports Paul Scott.

The authority assessed 135 classifications in 60 production areas against strict safety requirements for human consumption. Nine production areas received upgrades during the 2022 review of classifications, and one area received a shift in ‘Seasonal A’ classification.

SFPA executive chairperson Paschal Hayes and Marine Institute phytoplankton laboratory analyst Tara Chamberlain, at Roaringwater Bay, West Cork, to mark the SFPA’s publication of the 2022/23 classifications. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

Meanwhile, 12 production areas received downgrades, one area was declassified for mussels, two areas were declared as dormant, and two areas received additional classifications.

Ireland produces an estimated 28,100t of shellfish – including mussels, oysters, clams, cockles and scallops – from its classified production areas annually, and an additional 2,700t of scallops are landed from offshore sites.

Paschal Hayes, executive chairperson of the SFPA, said: “This work is an important pillar in both preserving and further enhancing Ireland’s global reputation for quality, safe and delicious seafood.”

Live shellfish can only be harvested from production areas that meet strict classification requirements for human consumption, as set out under European and Irish food laws.

The SFPA, in collaboration with the shellfish industry, conducts regular shellfish sampling in all production areas, and each area is given a rating that determines the conditions, if any, that need to be observed before shellfish can be sold for human consumption.

“It is incumbent upon all working in the industry to remain vigilant to any risks which have the potential to impact our seafood production areas, and that we adopt a collective approach throughout with a focus on quality and sustainable seafood,” said Paschal Hayes.

The Irish aquaculture sector is worth an estimated €64m annually, at the first point of sale, and employs around 1,984 people across the country.

Around 90% of shellfish produced in Ireland is exported, principally to European and Asian markets, and Ireland is the second largest producer of oysters in Europe after France.

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here


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